John Borthwick
John Borthwick Writer Sydney

What does adventure mean to you?

“Adventure to me always meant getting out of one’s skin—scared, thrilled or speechless—not necessarily on a blast of adrenaline (although that kicks things along nicely) but by being smacked around the chops with ‘something bigger’. Which could be an unexpected insight, a poetic flash, a heart-in-mouth vista, or that moment of exhaustion and made-it! when you’ve stretched way beyond your comfort couch. For one person it happens on a mountain pass, a trail or a vivid reef, for another, perhaps on a desert trek, in another culture, or ten days of meditation. Catch it where you can. The trick seems to be that you have to go out to the challenge, not just hope for it to happen.”

John has walked across Thailand in half a day (kind of) and hitchhiked around Australia in the 1960s. John Borthwick

Sydney-based John Borthwick is one of Australia’s leading travel writers. His work appears regularly in national newspapers and color magazines. The upside of this great freelance job is, as he says, that you get to see the wonders of the world, and it pays the bills as well. OK, some of the bills. The real side, he adds, of this creative wanderlust is that to keep the job you have to spend huge hours at the desk, writing, fact-checking and journey planning, not to mention marketing your stories and photos. But no one wants to hear a travel writer say that.

Having done plenty of adventure travel in his earlier days as a trek leader in the Himalayas and other places (preceded by years of shoestring wandering on the Asian and South American “overland” trails), John’s main adventures these days are shorter stints, often in Asia, on cycling, kayak, hiking or surfing excursions.

Favorite wave: Pasta Point, North Male, Maldives. Best trek: to Machu Picchu long before permits and organized groups. Wildest countries (back in the day): Afghanistan and Goa in the ‘70s, Laos in the ‘90s. First published adventure: youthful hitch-hiking clockwise around Australia. Best road trip: Karakoram Highway, Lahore to Kashgar. Most recent (cushy) adventure: cruising upriver on the Mekong, from Vientiane to the Golden Triangle.

John has received multiple recognitions for his work including the Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award, 2016 Travel Writer of the Year (Australian Society of Travel Writers) and a prestigious Friend of Thailand gong. He holds a PhD in travel literature.

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